Re: Query

Subject: Re: Query
From: Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 11:24:09 +1100

John Prince wrote:
> I don't think "its" is the only possesive pronoun without and
> apostrophe. Aren't "whose" and "ours" other examples of this?

Someone else already came to the party with this. Surely the most
obvious possessive pronouns apart from "its" are "my", "your", "his",
"her", "their". ("whose" and "ours" are actually demonstratives rather
than pure possessives.) Of these, "his" and "its" are the only ones
ending in "s", and there's no "hi's" to get people confused -- hence the
confusion over "its" vs "it's".

BTW, there is a case to be made out for regarding the so-called
possessive apostrophe as merely a decayed form of the apostrophe
signalling deletion. Just as "there's" is a condensed form of "there
is", so "John's" represents a form something like "John his". In Middle
English (as used by Chaucer), pronouns were changing; Chaucer used "hir"
rather than "his". Somewhere along the line we moved from "John hir" and
"Mary hir" to "John his" and "Mary his" (though the latter form may well
not have existed other than as a hypothetical transitional form), and
thence to "John's" and "Mary's". So trying to put a "possessive
apostrophe" in "its" makes it mean "it its" -- crazy, no?
Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
PO Box 1249, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Tel +61-2-9310-2224 ... Fax +61-2-9310-5056, or

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